Egyptian women's rights activist Narmeen Salem clashed with Salafi activist Walid Ismail during a TV debate on child marriage, when Ismail said that a girl aged 12,13, or 14 could be married off if she is "capable in body and mind of coping with the burdens of life." Salem responded that she was sad that "we have reached such a state of poverty and ignorance that we say that it is not a problem when a 12-year-old is married off" and that in 99% of the cases, the goal was really child trafficking. The debate was broadcast on Sada Al-Balad TV on October 1.
Egyptian Salafi Activist Walid Ismail: In our [modern] society, a 12-year-old girl should not be married off, except in two cases: A girl aged 12, 13, or 14, who is brought up in a family, and whose body is capable of coping with the burdens of life... Let me say it again: Her body is capable of coping with the burdens of life, and her mind is also capable of coping with the burdens of life... In such a case, there is no problem with her getting married.
Moderator: Do you wish to respond, Narmeen?
Women's Rights Activist Narmeen Salem: What do you mean when you say that her body is capable of coping with the burden? Can you explain this? I don't understand what you mean by this.
Walid Ismail: It means that she is able to serve her home...
Narmeen Salem: How do you measure this? By the kilo?
Walid Ismail: I ask you not to mock me...
Narmeen Salem: But I really don't understand.
While the entire world talks about iPhone X and smart technology, we, I'm sad to say, are talking about FGM and about marriage of 12-year-old girls. This is very unfortunate, as if the woman is...
Moderator: We are talking about the reality. Should we bury our heads in the sand? It makes me sad that Egypt, despite its civilization...
Moderator: Is there or isn't there a problem?
Narmeen Salem: Yes, but I'm not angry that we are talking about this. I'm just sad that we have reached such a state of poverty and ignorance that we say that it is not a problem when a 12-year-old girl is married off, if her body and mind allow it...
Moderator: Don't make a big deal out of it. He said it, and that's it
Narmeen Salem: .I am just commenting on the things he said.
Moderator: This is his opinion.
Narmeen Salem: .And I respect it. I will not comment on his opinions, but I'd like to present my own view. When we marry off a girl aged 12, 13, or 14, we should consider the reasons that a girl so young is getting married. Can she raise a family? She is incapable of this.
Moderator: At the age of 12, 14, or 16, a girl is incapable of raising a family?
Narmeen Salem: It is one thing if the goal is really to raise a family and another if the goal is trafficking, as in 99% of the cases.
Moderator: People are trafficking their children?
Narmeen Salem: Yes. They sell them.